Near the end of the (2nd?) Shadow War, a Vorlon armada was headed to obliterate the Centauri homeworld because of the Centauri's association with the Shadows. At this time a large Shadow armada was on the island of Celeini on Centauri Prime. They knew the Vorlons were coming and what would happen when they showed up, yet refused to leave. Why stubbornly keep such a large fleet on a planet that's about to be destroyed?

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    Didn't Morden say something about that, perhaps to the effect that they didn't think the Vorlons would actually dare destroy Centauri Prime? Or perhaps they figured their ships could escape in time, inflicting at least some damage on the attacking fleet en route. – Harry Johnston Sep 15 '15 at 19:40

The short answer is that the Shadows thought that the Vorlons would balk at destroying a large, populated planet just to get at the Shadow fleet. Mr Morden gives Londo an overview of their tactical thinking on the subject:

Morden: The Vorlons will never attack Centauri Prime. Small colonies, deep-range planets, sure. But to destroy a world as big as this? No. They don't have the will. - Falling Toward Apotheosis

As to whether he's actually correct, we'll never know. JMS spoke to this issue in an interview for the excellent Midwinter site:

JMS: Morden is living in denial...he's afraid, and hoping he's right. Centauri Prime has more civilians than any other planet or colony hit so far: three billion people. The shadows are hoping a figure that high will daunt even the Vorlons.

But he did point out that the gloves have definitely come off (on both sides):

Q. Wasn't the planet-killer a break in the rules?

JMS: That * followed * his trip to Z'ha'dum...so yes, the rules began to slip after that.

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    Plus, the Vorlons consider the Centauri (as well as the Narn) to be "a dying people". From the Vorlon POV destroying Centauri Prime would only hasten the Centauri's inevitable end. – Joe L. Sep 15 '15 at 20:58
  • @JoeL. - I thoroughly agree with the point that the Centauri are a crappy human shield and that the Shadows have powerfully misjudged the situation. – Valorum Sep 15 '15 at 21:08
  • Re: "As to whether he's actually correct, we'll never know": Maybe, but I think it's strongly implied that the Vorlons will blithely destroy the planet even after the Shadows are gone, simply to wipe out their remaining influence. – ruakh Jan 25 '16 at 17:46

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